Don’t make excuses for character flaws and bad behavior, thinking “that’s just who I am.”

excuses3.001I once had an employee who had the audacity to declare, “I know I have a short fuse and a bad temper, but that’s just who I am. People who work with me just need to deal with it.” I informed him that his inordinate temper would not be tolerated because it is an area that he has control over and needs to change.

I have a friend who is always late. She’ll probably be late to her own funeral. When I questioned her about her tardiness, she replied, “Yeah, I’ve always struggled with being on time. My mother was that way; I must have gotten it from her.” Her attitude is unacceptable. It’s rude to be tardy and everyone can learn to be punctual.

Don’t ever make excuses for character flaws and bad behavior because they are not part of your inalterable essence—you can, and should, change.

The serenity prayer says it quite eloquently:

Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

  • You can’t change your height but you can change your weight.
  • You can’t change your basic personality (and you don’t need to) but you can choose to be punctual, positive, kind, discreet, fair, etc.
  • You can’t change who your parents are but you can choose your friends.
  • You can’t change the weather but you do have sovereign control over your attitude.

Take responsibility for your attitude and behavior. Don’t minimize, ignore, or make excuses for personal deficiencies. If you talk too much, talk less. If you talk too loudly, speak more softly. If you are pessimistic, choose to be optimistic.

Marshall Goldsmith, an executive coach, said, “Over time, it is easy for each of us to cross the line and begin to make a virtue of our flaws—simply because the flaws constitute what we think of as ‘me.’ This misguided loyalty to our true natures—this excessive need to be me—is one of the toughest obstacles to making positive long-term change in our behavior.”

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4 Replies to “Don’t make excuses for character flaws and bad behavior, thinking “that’s just who I am.””

  1. Don,

    EXCELLENT essay!
    What my heart truly yearns for is to have Jesus Christ be my life !
    Colossians 1:27, II Corinthians 4:7-12

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